The First Annual Westside Art Exhibit opened Monday in the West Side Theatre with 110 visual art entries submitted by K-12 students from Patterson, Newman and Gustine.

Art teams from Newman and Patterson have collaborated to organize The First Annual Westside Art Exhibit. The event began Monday in the West Side Theatre and will culminate Thursday evening with an artists’ reception and awards. 

“We are proud we were able to pull this exhibit together to give our young artists their time in the spotlight,” Renee Stearns shared. The first-time organizers expect to have bumps along the way, as is with any new effort, but the overall goal makes the experience worth the learning curve. “We know we’re building something that can continue to serve the student artists on the west side.”

The idea for the exhibit started last fall when NCLUSD Superintendent Shawn Posey invited the Patterson High School art team to visit art programs in action in his district. Posey arranged time for Stearns and her fellow OHS art teacher, Gabie Layne, to meet with Cade Tomasegovich and Emily Blickenstaff from PHS. “And out of that, came the art show,” Stearns explained.

The team of four recognized the need for students to showcase their work; to be recognized as visual artists. The districts are able to display work at their local sites but the show opportunities in the county are difficult to participate in due to distance and transportation. The county shows are commonly held across the river in Modesto and Turlock.

The dedicated and supportive art teachers asked themselves, what if? What if they created a juried show experience closer to home where student artists can be encouraged to continue their devoted artistic pursuits? The collaboration meetings and planning began.

“The West Side Theatre was generous to give us the space to hold the exhibit and dates to work with,” Stearns acknowledged. From there, the call for entry was developed for the juried art exhibit. 

The show was opened to students K-12 in Newman, Gustine and Patterson school districts. Entries are in a variety of visual art categories including painting, drawing, digital art, photography, multi-media and ceramics. 

Awards will be presented for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Honorable Mention pieces. One artist will be awarded Best of Show honors.

The panel of judges include artist and Gustine native Mike Souza, Stanislaus Arts Council member Kari Thompson, and Stanislaus County Office of Education Arts Coordinator Amy Bultena.

Local District Superintendents will be selecting their favorite art work to receive a Superintendents Choice distinction.

The exhibit is open for public viewing from 3-6 p.m. today, Wednesday. There is no charge for entry.